This week Singapore announced that it is set to become the first country in Asia to make ‘stealthing’ – or removing a condom without the partner’s permission – a criminal offence.
That there even needs to exist a term for ‘stealthing’, and all the websites and advice pages dedicated to its practise, is disgusting.
But what is most scary is that many men and even women do not see it as a sex crime.
Stealthing is illegal in the UK but no one has yet been convicted of it, despite it being a widespread practice (a 2017 paper on stealthing for the Columbia Journal found that 32% of women and 19% of gay men interviewed had been victims of stealthing).
Stealthing is a sex crime, but not really recognised as one in society. If you read the Daily Mail article on a recent stealthing case in Berlin, you’ll find top rated comments such as: “So surely you would also arrest a woman who forgot a day of her birth control regimen”.
They completely miss the point about the intent, the danger, and gender-based violence and power-play surrounding stealthing.
For male-on-female stealthing, the men on the stealthing sites attempt to defend the practise, arguing that it is their natural born right to spread their seed.
Yet that male-on-male stealthing exists shows that stealthing is really about male supremacy and violence as man’s birth right.
Stealthing comes from a belief that somehow if the person has consented to one sexual act, then they have given up all right to their body. The victim must face the general practicalities of not having used a condom, of worrying about STDs and pregnancy. But they must also face something far more traumatic: having to recognise that their trust has been broken, that they have been raped.
I know boys who have been joking about stealthing since they were about sixteen. And even beyond stealthing in practise, a stealthing mindset is everywhere.
How many men do we see on TV, in films, in real life, complain about the wearing a condom?
How many relationships do we know where girls have been quickly pressured or pushed into taking the pill or getting the coil, pumping hormones around her body, so the guy wouldn’t have to wear a condom?
The practice of stealthing is widespread, but the attitude and the entitlement of stealthing is literally everywhere. Not only do men feel they have a right to sex, but they feel they have a right to sex without a condom.
Stealthing is a sex crime that needs to be recognised as one, in society as much as in the law.